Serbia's New Government Announced: Continuity Prevails with Some Striking Additions
Implications for International Investors

May 2, 2024
On Wednesday 1 May, Serbia’s incoming Prime Minister, Miloš Vučević, announced the formation of the new government following elections on 17 December, 2023. Vučević takes over from Serbia’s longest-serving Prime Minister in recent history, Ana Brnabić. The new formation largely includes long-standing figures, albeit with some notable surprises.


● Leading the government will be Miloš Vučević, who previously served as Mayor of Serbia’s second city, Novi Sad, and more recently as Minister of Defence. In June 2023, Vučević was named President of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and was widely tipped to lead the new administration. Vučević is a close ally and loyalist of President Aleksandar Vučić, who remains the key power broker in the country and the party. In contrast to his predecessor, Brnabic, who was known to be the driver of major FDI and digitalisation projects in the country, little is known about Vučević’s key economic objectives, other than to prioritise the broad-based “Leap 2027” program, timed to support Serbia’s hosting of EXPO 2027.

● The finance sector is expected to see continuity as both the Minister of Finance, Siniša Mali, and the Governor of the Central Bank, Jorgovanka Tabaković, retain their long-standing positions. Mali was widely considered a rival to Vučević to head the government, but has instead been promoted to the role of First Deputy Prime Minister in the new formation.

● Another Deputy Prime Minister in the new government is Aleksandar Vulin, who was omitted from the 2023 government following roles as Minister of Defence and Minister of Interior. Together with Nenad Popović, who was named Minister without portfolio, the pair were recently placed on the sanctions list by the US State Department due to their close ties with Russia. The re-introduction of Vulin and Popović in the new government has been the most prominent international takeaway as it signals a slight shift towards Russia in President Vučić’s decade-long East-West ‘balancing act’. However, neither have a clear technical role or specific ministry to manage, and their inclusion could also be interpreted as a symbolic move to appeal to pro-Russian segments of society.

● Likewise, the new government will see the leader of the far-right Oathkeeper party, Milica Đurđević Stamenkovski, take up the Ministry for Family Care and Demography. This news caused serious controversy in Serbia as during the December election campaign, Đurđević Stamenkovski had been a vocal opposition leader staunchly opposing the ruling party’s position on Kosovo and other domestic and foreign policy issues. Her incorporation into the new government demonstrates the ruling party’s ambitions to appeal to right-leaning voters.

● Former Ambassador to the US Marko Djuric has been promoted to Minister of Foreign Affairs. Having led Serbia’s diplomatic efforts in D.C. since 2020, Djuric played an instrumental role in driving the growing US-Serbian relations, alongside his counterpart in Belgrade, the seasoned diplomat and negotiator Ambassador Christopher Hill. His promotion to the foreign ministry suggests Serbia will continue prioritising these relations and is a strong indicator of the new administration’s foreign policy objectives.

● Other notable highlights include the return of Zlatibor Loncar to the Ministry of Health, having previously served in this position from 2014-2022, while the leader of the Socialist Party of Serbia, Ivica Dačić, takes up the Ministry of Interior, a position he held between 2008-2014. Meanwhile, the Ministry of ICT also sees a shake-up, as Dejan Ristić, the former Director of the National Library, replaces Mihailo Jovanović who served since 2022.

Despite the new leadership and reshuffle of key officials, the new government largely represents continuity from previous administrations as we do not expect major shifts in domestic or foreign policy. While maintaining the balance overall, the re-introduction of Vulin and Popović suggests a slight turn towards more pro-Russian segments of the political establishment, albeit mainly symbolically without clear practical implications.


The first real test to Vučević’s leadership will be to host China’s President Xi Jinping in Belgrade on 7-8 May. The Chinese delegation visit represents a diplomatic feat for the government as Serbia is one of three stops on Xi’s European tour, also including Hungary and France. Areas of cooperation are expected to include Beijing-funded infrastructure investments in the country, as well as growing defence cooperation between the two countries. Another issue being speculated on is whether Xi will use the visit to formally invite Serbia into the BRICS alliance, which would be the organisation’s first expansion onto the European continent.

Other pressing foreign policy issues the new government will have to contend with include countering Kosovo’s bid to gain membership in the Council of Europe (CoE). Last month, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) recommended Kosovo be given membership status, with 131 votes in favour, 29 against and 11 abstentions. On May 16-17, the organisation’s executive body of Foreign Ministers, the Committee of Ministers, is set to convene to make the final decision, with a ⅔ majority needed. President Vučić has already threatened to withdraw Serbia from the CoE if Kosovo is admitted, though it is unclear if the government will follow-through with such a drastic step.

On the domestic front, the new government is expected to begin accelerating many of the economic pledges it announced under the ‘Leap 2027’ program in January this year. The program is a broad 4-year economic plan to invest around €17.8 billion (comparable to Serbia's annual budget) in wide-ranging sectors, from AI and biotech to waste management and capital markets, to rapidly modernise the country ahead of the EXPO in 2027.

Looming over the first 100-day period will be the upcoming local elections that will be held on June 2. Voters will head to the polls in a number of local municipalities, including Novi Sad and Nis, Serbia’s second and third biggest cities respectively. The date will coincide with a re-run of the controversial Belgrade municipality election, originally held in December 2023 but drawing widespread condemnation over alleged voter fraud and irregularities. The Belgrade vote is arguably the only opportunity for the opposition to make gains and threaten the ruling party’s dominance, though a number of parties, including the main pro-European Party of Freedom and Justice (SSP), have announced they will boycott the vote due to unimproved election conditions.
If you would like to schedule a discussion of this paper, please contact:
Philip Merrell, Regional Director for Serbia & the Western Balkans at